A Look in The Local Bin: The Whiffs
Another super group has emerged. Featuring members from Nubiles, Wet Ones, and The Conquerors, The Whiffs make music that is pure fun. Melting together bits of The Ramones, The Kinks, and The Strokes, the Kansas City four piece’s debut cassette, Take A Whiff!, boils with lyrical and instrumental energy.
Starting with “Baby Tonight,” the cassette quickly establishes its sound. This first track has a genius simplicity to it. Its jittering bass lines and sock hop percussion do well to set the song’s backbone squarely in pop while the fuzzed over guitars and slightly distorted vocals throw a tint of early punk to the the mix. That said, dismantling “Baby Tonight” into what makes it tick is to lose track of the gold that bursts from its less than two minute unfurling. The song hits visceral with its danceable rhythms.
Truly, “Baby Tonight” sets the bar high for the rest of the album, a bar that Take A Whiff! hits and surpasses track after track. Each song on the cassette is replete with a type of cleverness that never comes off as coy. Without a doubt, Take A Whiff! is a charmer. The album is warm through and through, but its warmness has a bit of pain to it. The juxtaposition of these feels makes it easy to listen to on repeat. Whether the band is wailing about a lost love or navigating the fraught waters of a new relationship, The Whiffs give some anxious moments a sound that is catchy and danceable.
One of these moments happens in “I Need You Here.” With lyrics that painfully bemoan the estrangement of two lovers, the track twists what is somber and melancholy into a burst of garage gold. “I Need You Here,” like most of Take A Whiff!, burns with a passion that is rare in music–both nationally and locally. In a phrase, the song has no chill, which is part of what makes it fantastic.
The Whiff’s debut cassette rejects the unaffected posturing that dominates the tone of certain indie pop outfits. Letting their emotional freak flags fly, so to speak, the Kansas City quartet has recorded something that has a real presence under its sounds. If you want an album to get your blood hot, to start a punk dance off, to be a soundtrack to cruising, then look no further than Take A Whiff!
The cassette ends with “Backseat.” A slow-burner, the song concludes the album with a late volta. Like the ending of a Shakespearian sonnet (or the video game Braid), “Backseat” shifts the focus of the album just enough to refreshen the themes that come before it. This final song ties one end of the tape to the other, daring its listener to flip the cassette and start the garage pop odyssey all over again.